My Graduate Degree in Business Shame - Why I Was Ashamed Of My MBA

Middle-class suburban NJ girl goes to college as expected.

Gets a decent paying corporate job right out of school, excels in her career while being a closet entrepreneur with a side business that is doing well and continuously expanding and growing.

Girl decides next logical step is graduate school for MBA to further career opportunities (corporate) and to leverage dog business(s) to the next level.

Girl completes MBA, gets promotion and then lives in the status quo for a decade. Dog business is stagnant until girl invests in mentoring, decides to change her narrative and receives a significant push off the ledge. Now lives a pretty epic life, traveling the world, has fantastic clients and is fulfilled. Pisses off most people but reaches the right ones.

Hi, it’s me. Kristen Lee. And, I was ashamed of having an advanced business degree.

Now, before the pitchforks, old professors, managers of corporate past, and most importantly, my parents come to scream at me for this article – I do want to make it clear, I am not slandering my business school education. At all. I am so grateful for the opportunities and privilege; including 15 years in different large-scale public traded organizations. And, I do still leverage skills and knowledge as well.

But, for a long time, I carried around shame (and a level of burnout because of #hustleandgrind). I felt like a failure in my entrepreneurial journey. Sure, we had a decent standard of success, but I just kept dead-ending our phases of growth. Then making u-turns, and then dead-ending again.

I kept thinking to myself “What the hell, I killed it marketing!”

Here’s the thing:

Studying and understanding the theories on business plans, SWOTs, economics, organizational leadership, finances, international business, etc. provide a fundamental background.

However, it doesn’t allow a crucial piece for entrepreneurial and overall small business growth:

Getting out there and FUCKING SHIT UP. Making the mistakes. Having fails. Taking your lessons learned as a business owner then moving forward with process improvement. And taking accountability to be a BETTER business owner.

Formal education for business owners doesn’t allow the margins for error and experimenting with the support of like-minded people. The fishbowl of GPA is valued more than measurable growth in business/personal development.

And remember, those dead ends/u-turns I had?

I HATED myself. I used to beat myself up continuously. Resentful and ashamed of having the degree.

Your education should never stop as a business owner. Always strive to be the dumbest, most broke person in the room surrounded by others in different industries (NOT JUST THE PET INDUSTRY). Be humble and seek mentors, business coaches, and consultants to pull your head out of your ass.

The moment I put aside the shame (and some arrogance), committed myself to be a student for life, everything changed and will continue to evolve.

Does anyone want a SWOT analysis of their business? Just kidding.

Kristen Lee